Airdrie City council approves organics recycling program in 2014
Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 10:28 am
The City of Airdrie approved a curbside organics pickup program to commence in April 2014, at the Dec. 16 council meeting.
The program underwent a four-month pilot project in the Waterstone and Canals neighbourhoods in 2013. A total of 81 residents took part in the program and reduced their garbage by 45 per cent over the same time period in the previous year, according to a report from the City’s Waste and Recycling department.
Residents will be given 240 L green bins that will be picked up bi-weekly in the winter months and weekly throughout the rest of the year. They will also be given kitchen pails for their organic waste, which require environmentally-friendly, compostable bags.
“Recycling organics is better for the environment in many ways,” said Kathleen Muretti, manager of Waste and Recycling, who mentioned the program had been given a vote of confidence in 2009 when council approved their Waste Management Master Plan. “It turns waste material into a new, useable product, it saves valuable landfill space and it reduces methane and greenhouse gasses organics generate in the landfill.”
Costs to Airdrie residents for the program will be an additional $5.26 per month on their waste management utility bill, on top of the recently announced budget increase to utility bills (see pages 1 and 2).
The majority of council was in favour of the program, except Alderman Allan Hunter, who referenced the total cost of more than $696,000 to implement the program and whether or not money could be better spent elsewhere.
“I’m looking at our proposed budget and we’re talking about bringing on two additional RCMP officers instead of four as a cost-saving measure,” said Hunter. “When I talk to some residents, it seems like they’re more concerned about safety than recycling their organics.”
In 2012, the Airdrie Citizen Satisfaction Survey recorded that 93 per cent of respondents said recycling programs were important, and 59 per cent of respondents supported the implementation of a food and yard waste collection program.
Hunter expressed some concern over whether or not Airdrie residents would actually adhere to the program; Muretti responded with a recommendation that council revisit their waste management bylaw in 2015.
“I would advise that council look at the waste management bylaw as a way to enforce this program, where penalties could be put in place for those who don’t abide by it, or there is a fee involved for those who choose not to make use of the program,” said Muretti.
Alderman Darrell Belyk followed up Muretti’s comments by stating this program is a culture change that will take time.
“It’s not just going to happen overnight where everyone just starts following this program,” said Belyk. “We need to give it a year or so to become a part of peoples’ routine and they are doing it without thinking about it.”
Mayor Peter Brown voted in favour of the program and spoke about the benefits of organics recycling.
“Diverting residential food and yard waste from the landfill is a critical step in achieving council’s priorities of reducing waste and being fiscally responsible,” said Brown.
“Considering sending organics to compost costs 50 per cent less than sending to a landfill, this program will make an impact financially and on the environment.”
The next three months will be spent distributing the 240 L green bins and kitchen pails to residents, as well as mailing out information on what can and can’t be put in the organic waste bins.
Muretti said that her team will be taking RFPs (requests for proposals) from as many as four transfer sites that will take on Airdrie’s organic waste, as well as RFPs for contractors to transport the waste.